What’s My Tolerance?

written by Alexandra Arnett, photographed by Nina Compeau

We’ve all heard the words “cannabis tolerance,” but what exactly does that mean, and how does it work? 

Developing a tolerance toward cannabis means that your body has become accustomed to the physiological and psychological effects of cannabis. This typically results in the need to use higher doses over time to reach the same level of intoxication as the times before, or the desired level. Cannabis tolerance is most prevalent in daily users of cannabis. The main theory surrounding cannabis tolerance is the desensitization of CB1 receptors by THC. What this means is that, over time, the use of THC can wear out the binding ability to CB1 receptors. According to the research, daily users of large amounts of cannabis develop tolerance at higher rates than those who use occasionally. However, developing a tolerance to cannabis seems to vary by person, and this is likely the result of everyone having unique endocannabinoid systems.

Variations in a person’s endocannabinoid system also relates to dosing; what works for some, may not work for others. For new cannabis users, dosing cannabis can be scary, especially when it comes to edibles. Cannabinoids have a biphasic dose-response curve. What this means is that less can actually be more: after a certain dose, the cannabinoids become less effective. The best dosing strategy is to start low and go slow. Through a campaign called “Try 5,” Oregon put in place the 5mg of THC per serving rule and consequently the 50mg package limit for edibles. These rules are intended to protect people from ingesting too much at once and having a bad or unpleasant experience. In addition, it was also meant to protect children and pets from any negative side effects if they were to get into edibles. Today, you can find “single-dose” 50mg THC edibles made to eat in one bite for those with higher tolerance levels, or you can find packs of edibles with various serving sizes of THC in each bite for smaller doses. 

For extracts, concentrates and tinctures, the OLCC has limited their THC levels per package to 1000mg of THC. So whenever you see a cartridge or a dab and see 87% THC, it means there is 870mg within the entire product. For example, say the serving size for a specific cartridge is 0.05g in a product containing 870mg of THC. Doing the math, per 0.05g dab from a 1g cartridge, you would get 43.5mg of THC in a single serving.

To help remediate a cannabis tolerance, try switching up the strains of flower or concentrate you’ve been smoking for a new profile of cannabinoids and terpenes. If you’ve been using a lot of vape pens, move away from the distillate cartridges and splurge on the Live Resin cartridge next time. By changing up the profile of cannabinoids and terpenes, you are able to help “reset” the receptors they interact with. If after switching up the strain you still find a hard time reaching your desired effect, take a break for a day or two if possible. The longer you wait, the more time your cannabinoid receptors have to get back to baseline. This also means that the longer you wait, the more likely it will be that potential adverse effects, such as dizziness, nausea, and paranoia, may occur as well. Also, it is important to note that just because you aren’t receiving an “intoxicating” high doesn’t mean the cannabinoids and other compounds aren’t working in various ways to benefit your body. For some, like cancer patients, a tolerance to the “high” of cannabis is a good thing because they are often taking very high milligram doses of THC. 

If you’re a customer at a dispensary in Oregon, you should be handed a little card with two warnings on it, one for pets and children and one for pregnant women. While frequent customers and medical patients may take these cards for granted, the OLCC created these with good intent. Dogs have a higher concentration of CB1 receptors in the brain than humans do. This means that THC without higher levels of CBD can be harmful to dogs or make them sick, and may cause respiratory issues that may lead to death if left untreated. The OLCC also restricts any company from marketing a product toward pets to deter people away from giving their pets cannabis products. You may see CBD for pets at your local retail store, but these are unregulated products and many should NOT be used for pets or even humans. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all cannabis is bad for animals, but pet owners should take caution with these products. Sourcing from a reputable company and purchasing from a licensed dispensary are the first steps you should take if looking for CBD products to give to your pet. 

Currently, there is not much research on the topic of cannabinoids and dogs or cats and veterinarians across the country are restricted from discussing cannabis medicine with pet owners. One state, California, passed AB 2215 which gives veterinarians the ability to “discuss” cannabis with pet owners and are working on SB 627 which would allow for medical recommendations of cannabis to pets by veterinarians.

References

Ramaekers, J. G., Mason, N. L., & Theunissen, E. L. (2020). Blunted highs: Pharmacodynamic and behavioral models of cannabis tolerance. European Neuropsychopharmacology. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.euroneuro.2020.01.006

4/20 Eats

written and photographed by Kimberly Harris

Warning: This article is for the personal use of adults 21 years of age or older in a cannabis-legal state. Edibles must be made for personal use, at home and consumed by a knowing and consenting adult. Any other use of edibles like distributing for profit or unknowingly dosing a person is illegal. Let’s keep this fun and legal, know your limits and laws before making or consuming edibles. 

Edibles are delectable—and dangerous. Without the right understanding, one’s indulgence can turn into an intense high. But if you’re anything like Ashleigh Horner, sometimes you’re searching for exactly that. Horner has been making homemade edibles since 2015. She was a budtender for three years in Eugene and Portland. Now, Ashleigh works at Claywolf, an oil processing company, as a packager.

Her first pan of edible lemon bars led her to start making meals like cannabis infused pancakes and steaks. “I like to cook. Sometimes when I smoke too much my lungs hurt, so it’s nice to eat and get high rather than to smoke more,” says Horner. “I don’t mind the taste of weed because I smoke so much that I’ve adapted to like the flavor of it.” 

Horner uses Rick Simpson Oil (RSO) to infuse sweet potatoes for her latest edible meal. RSO is a fully activated oil, which means users don’t have to worry about the science behind activating it, like decarboxylating flower in the oven. 

Ingredients:

–       1 sweet potato 

–       Bunch of cilantro

–       1/2 cup of  butter

–       1 Lime 

–       1 tbsp of paprika

–       1 tbsp of cumin 

–       1 tbsp of garlic powder

–       1 tbsp of oregano 

–       A pinch of cinnamon 

 –       Rick Simpson Oil – the recommended serving size is 14.9 milligrams (approx. the size of a grain of rice)

*Recipe can serve a single person, but the amount of RSO depends on your preference of a high. “It’s hard to tell how edibles hit people because it’s different for everyone. Just go slow and start with a small serving,” said Horner.

  Medicated Sweet Potato Hash

Steps:

1)    Cut the sweet potato into chunks.

2)    Heat the butter up just enough to be combined with the serving size of RSO. 

3)    Mix until the RSO is mixed all the way through the butter. As the mixture is stirred together the butter will start to turn an unattractive, dark yellow color. 

4)    Set the butter and RSO mixture aside. In a separate bowl, mix together the potatoes and spices to taste. Stir the ingredients together to season the potatoes. 

5)   Cut the lime in half. Squirt the lime halves into the bowl of seasoned potatoes, then mix. Roll the lime on the counter before cutting to get the juices flowing properly. 

6)    Place a cooking pan on the stove top, turn it up to medium heat and empty the bowl of seasoned potatoes into the pan. 

7)    Pour the butter and RSO mixture into the pan. Turn the stove top down to a medium-low heat. Keep it on a lower heat so the butter mixture doesn’t burn– the medicated oil can burn out with it! 

8)    Cover the pan and let it sit until the potatoes are soft, approx. 20 to 30 minutes. Check on the potatoes while they are cooking by poking them with a fork to see how soft they are. 

“When I cook, I add seasonings here and there that I see fit. Cooking is supposed to be fun and yummy,” says Ashleigh.

9)    After the potatoes are soft, put cilantro in at the end to avoid letting the greens turn too brown. 

10) When the potatoes are cool enough, eat and enjoy your creation with caution. 

According to Ashleigh, RSO infused foods can taste like cannabis, but with enough spices and lime, the sweet potatoes totally mask the flavor. Other friends tried Ashleigh’s potatoes and thought they tasted nothing like cannabis, which is a signal to users to be cautious when consuming homemade edibles. 

 Ashleigh recommends using a fatty substance like butter, cooking oil or coconut oil to mix with activated cannabis oil because the THC bonds to fat and that’s what gets you high. A mistake she’s made in the past is not blending the THC well enough, so edibles can be unevenly medicated. Avoid disproportionation by mixing cannabis oils and fatty substances well and pouring the mixture evenly into your cooking.